The realm of shopping
Maria Giulia Zunino
Nasco Stone & Tile
The name Barton Creek Square refers to the watercourse which flows more than 60 km to a lake where it joins the famous Colorado River, creating a natural area on the edge of the Texas capital that is home to a wealth of native fauna and flora and contains many lakes that are popular with lovers of canoeing and kayaking.
Located at the southern edge of this area, between the MoPac Expressway (linking Dallas and Fort Worth) and Loop 360, stands the largest shopping mall in Austin and a genuine urban landmark, just a seven minute drive from centre of the city.
Built in the early nineties under the then prevailing model that envisaged only clothing-related boutiques and commercial spaces, it has recently been extended with the addition of the Nordstrom Wing to include services that are now increasingly in demand amongst contemporary customers: new bars and restaurants offering a range of different cuisines, a multiplex cinema, luxury spas, banks and digital graphic centres, hair salons and grocery stores, technology (including the only Apple Store in town) and opticians.
With over 500,000 visitors in 2006 and an expected 600,000 by 2012, Barton Creek Square is the flagship of the 10 Austin shopping malls owned by the Simon Property Group, one of the leading US real estate groups with more than 380 properties and 5,000 employees worldwide.
Much of this success is due to the interior design project created by Arrowstreet, the architecture and design firm based in Somerville, Massachusetts which, « in its work based on the 250 years of experience of its members aims to promote the areas (commercial and others) through creative and often imaginative proposals capable of bringing out their potential and energy ».
The result is a kind of urban landscape whose key strengths are the connecting spaces, envisaged not just as transit areas but as meeting and rest places with strong visual appeal.
The sculptural pedestrian stairs, the escalators, the wide pathways that open out into Italian-style squares delimited by arcades of different shapes and sizes and the balconies with panoramic views onto the interior all benefit from generous spaces and abundant natural light.
The light is diffused softly by the material chosen for all the floor coverings which once again testifies to Italian excellence, consisting of the Tecnoquartz and Stonehenge collections from Lea Ceramiche – beautiful and elegant like the natural stone used in many Italian cities.
The Tecnoquartz tiles, chosen in the clear and luminous Silver version, are installed in the central sections subject to higher traffic. To emphasise the spatial variations, they are used in a wide variety of designs based on a combination of 30×30 cm and 20×30 cm sizes. In the soft Savanna colour and 60×60 cm size, the Stonehenge tiles (the name of which alludes to the strength and appeal of the stones of the famous Celtic site) are dotted across some of the central sections and delineate the boundary between the high-traffic area and the entrances to the shops.
« Their aesthetic quality is one of the added values of the project, » note the architects, an opinion confirmed by the visitors to the Barton Creek Square website who comment enthusiastically about the innovative decor and appeal of these stone style ceramic tiles.
« But alongside their aesthetic qualities, these porcelain tiles with full-body technology (and double pressing in the case of Tecnoquartz) also have greater strength and durability, » they add. « Not to mention that they are stain resistant, slip resistant, non-absorbent and very easy to keep clean, all of which are essential factors in prestigious public spaces. »
Lea Ceramiche, Stonehenge and Tecnoquartz series
Savanna and Silver
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0.04%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 145 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 50 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant